Seafood Fraud

Seafood Fraud: Stopping Bait and Switch

Seafood fraud is the practice of misleading consumers about their seafood in order to increase profits.

The Campaign

Seafood is a popular food internationally, yet consumers are routinely given little or no information about the seafood they eat. The information they are given can be misleading which impacts consumers, public health, fishermen, honest seafood businesses and the oceans. Oceana is working to require traceability for all seafood which will help to prevent seafood mislabeling and keep illegally caught fish out of the international market while providing more information to consumers about their seafood purchases.

Seafood is a global commodity traded all over the world, following a long, complex and non-transparent supply chain. It also serves as an important source of protein for millions of people every day. However, seafood fraud and species substitutions occur regularly, cheating consumers out of what they ordered and putting public health and the oceans at risk. In addition, seafood fraud allows illegally caught fish to be laundered into the legal seafood trade.

Seafood fraud is a global problem: It has been studied and found all over the world.  Oceana is leading the way by exposing seafood fraud through extensive DNA testing and in campaigning for policy change that would put in place traceability requirements that would result in fish being tracked from boat to plate in order to bring transparency to the seafood supply chain, help prevent seafood mislabeling and fraud and stamp out markets for illegally fished products.

  • Seafood fraud can directly threaten human health
  • Seafood fraud creates a market for illegal fishing
  • Mislabeling fish makes it difficult for consumers to make eco-friendly choices
  • Seafood fraud misleads consumers about the true availability of seafood

What Oceana Does

Exposing the extent of Seafood Fraud

Oceana has been a leader in exposing seafood fraud. In the United States, Oceana conducted one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world to date, collecting more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states to determine if they were honestly labeled. DNA testing found that one-third (33 percent) of the 1,215 samples analyzed nationwide were mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. Oceana has also conducted similar studies in Europe. Oceana's research has generated widespread interest in the press and has supported its successful campaigning to convince President Obama to convene a seafood fraud task force and to make a strong set of recommendations, including domestic and international measures, to stop seafood fraud and end global illegal fishing.

Advocating for Traceability

In order to ensure that all seafood sold is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled, Oceana campaigns for more transparency and accountability in the seafood supply chain, including full chain traceability. The information that the fishermen provide when they land the fish, like where, when and how it was caught, needs to follow that fish from boat to plate. This ensures that information is available to verify legality and identity of seafood in the supply chain, with some of that information available to the consumers so they can make informed decisions about the seafood they purchase to feed their families.

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